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Alvis built its last automobile in 1967, a generation ago. Never a volume manufacturer, Alvis was one of the most innovative and successful British marques, distinguished by racing success, a well-earned reputation for reliability and steady management that, after a financial reorganization in the mid-twenties, turned yearly profits through the depths of the Great Depression. Early record-setting success at Brooklands was followed by the innovative development of front-wheel drive cars with de Dion front suspension, the first British automobile with fully independent suspension and the first fully-synchronized four-speed gearbox offered on a production British car.
Introduced in August 1936, the Speed 25’s engine was increased to 3.6 liters displacement from the Speed 20’s 2.8 liters. With predictable handling, a stylishly low chassis that brought the best possible work from Alvis’s favored coachbuilders and remarkable power that propelled even the heaviest bodies to nearly 100mph, the Speed 25 is regarded as Alvis’s most important and sporting machine. A measure of enthusiasts’ regard for the Speed 25 is that of 391 built some 207 are known to survive today, a remarkable 53% survival rate. Rightfully regarded as a worthy competitor for the 3-Liter and 4-Liter Bentleys of the day, the most sporting coachwork was the four seat tourer built by Cross & Ellis and of the 38 built, 34 are believed to exist. The Cross & Ellis coachwork is long but low and delicately proportioned, expressing the essence of British sports tourers of the thirties.
This particular 1939 Alvis Speed 25 Tourer by Cross & Ellis is the next-to-last of the 38 examples built and was shipped to Canada on August 4, 1938. Fitted with a Luvax one-shot chassis oiling system, Luvax A.L.C. adjustable shock absorbers, a special-order fold-flat windscreen, wind tone horns, cigar lighter, chassis-mounted scissors jacks, a two-inch longer steering column, dual side-mounted spares and quick release radiator cap, it was an individual expression of bespoke motoring style and performance. Under the hood, its original 106hp 3571 cc overhead valve six-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transmission propel it down the road, while independent front suspension with transverse leaf spring and a live axle rear-end with leaf springs and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes keep it under control.
An outstanding touring car automobile, this Alvis drives well at speed and, with its Luvax shocks set to soft, it is comfortable to drive on longer trips. The six-cylinder engine and transmission perform like that of a modern vehicle and it will cruise effortlessly at 50-55 miles per hour. The previous owner, who had long desired a Cross & Ellis Tourer, shipped this car to England for an anniversary meeting of the Alvis Club and drove it throughout the countryside around the Oxford event. An AACA Junior winner at Hershey in 1992 following its restoration, the Speed 25 Cross & Ellis Tourer has been shown in the Concours d’Elegance at both Amelia Island in 2001 and Pebble Beach in 2002, honors that are rarely conferred upon classics with nearly ten year old restorations. It is ample evidence both of the quality of its restoration and the care and attention it has subsequently received. It has since been acquired by the present owner, a dedicated collector in his own right who has maintained this outstanding car in his noted collection.